• Overview
  • Obesity prevalence
  • Trends over time
  • Population breakdowns
  • Drivers
  • Comorbidities
  • Health systems
  • Actions
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Obesity prevalence

Adults, 2017-2018

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:21000
Area covered:National
References:Australian National Health Survey 2017-18 (provisional results). http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~About%20the%20National%20Health%20Survey~5 (accessed 12.12.18)
Notes:Around 32% of those measured in 2017 did not have height & weight measured, they used self report
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2014-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:14561
Area covered:National
References:Australian National Health Survey, 2014-15 First Results. Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4364.0.55.001Appendix22014-15?opendocument&tabname=Notes&prodno=4364.0.55.001&issue=2014-15&num=&view= (last accessed 27th September 2017)
Notes:Body Mass Index is derived from measured height and weight. In 2014-15, 26.8% of respondents aged 18 years and over did not have their height, weight or both measured. For these respondents, imputation was used to obtain height, weight and BMI scores. For more information see Appendix 2: Physical measurements in the National Health Survey, see link in referencde
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2011-2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:9019
Area covered:National
References:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease—Australian facts: Risk factors. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 4. Cat. no. CDK 4. Canberra: AIHW. ABS 2013a. Australian Health Survey: biomedical results for chronic diseases, 2011–12. ABS. cat. no. 4364.0.55.005. Canberra: ABS. Australian Health Survey 2011-12. http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129550538
Notes:Check original to confirm sample size, 9019 is understood to be the sample size More recent data for combined Overweight & Obesity available at Australian Health Survey First Results 2014-15 (http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/CDA852A349B4CEE6CA257F150009FC53/$File/national%20health%20survey%20first%20results,%202014-15.pdf last accessed 4th January 2017)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2007-2008

Survey type:Measured
Age:15+
Sample size:11247
Area covered:National
References:National Health Survey: Summary of Results 2009 (4364). Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2007-2008

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:16601
Area covered:National
References:Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). National Health Survey: Summary of results. Canberra, Australia, ABS, 2009. WHO Global InfoBase reference:102910
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1999-2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:25-84
Sample size:11247
Area covered:National
References:Cameron, A.J., Welborn, A.T., Zimmet, P.Z., Dunstan, D.W., Owen, N., Salmon, J., Dalton, M., Jolley, D. and Shaw, J.E. Overweight and obesity in Australia:the 1999 - 2000 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Med J Aust 2003 5;178 (9), 427 - 432. PubMed ID: 12720507
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1980

Survey type:Measured
Age:25-64
References:Bennett SA, Magnus P (on behalf of the Risk Factor Prevalence Study Management Committee of the National Heart Foundation of Australia). Trends in cardiovascular risk factors in Australia. Results from the National heart Foundation’s Risk Factor Prevalence Study, 1980-1989, the Medical Journal of Australia 1994;161:519-527
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2014-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-17
Sample size:4033
Area covered:National
References:Australian Health Survey First Results 2014-15 (http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/CDA852A349B4CEE6CA257F150009FC53/$File/national%20health%20survey%20first%20results,%202014-15.pdf last accessed 4th January 2017)
Cutoffs:Other

Children, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:7-17
Sample size:12869
Area covered:National
References:O'Dea JA, Dibley MJ. Prevalence of obesity, overweight and thinness in Australian children and adolescents by socioeconomic status and ethnic/cultural group in 2006 and 2012. International Journal of Public Health October 2014, Volume 59, Issue 5, pp 819-828
Notes:IOTF Cut off point Age range approximate uses children from School Year 3-10
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2007

Survey type:Measured
Age:2-16
Sample size:4487
Area covered:National
References:Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey 2007 - Main Findings. Australian Government, Australian Food and Grocery Council, Australian Government Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2003-2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:6-11
Sample size:2184
Area covered:Regional
References:Sanigorski AM, Bell AC, Kremer PJ, Swinburn BA. High Childhood Obesity in an Australian Population. Obesity 2007;15:1908-1912
Notes:IOTF International Cut off points applied.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 1997

Survey type:Measured
Age:7-15
Sample size:5518
Area covered:National
References:Booth ML, Dobbins T, Okely D, Denney-Wilson E and Hardy LL. 2007. Trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young Australians, 1985, 1997 and 2004. Obesity, 15 (5): 1089 - 1095.
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3. Sample size includes children aged 13-15yrs
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 1997

Survey type:Measured
Age:10+
Sample size:452
References:Bellizzi MC, Horgan GW, Guillaume M, Dietz WH. Prevalence of childhood and adolescent overweight and obesity in Asian and European countries. In: Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence. Editors: Chunming Chen, William H. Dietz. Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series Pediatric Program. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2002.
Notes:IOTF International Cut off points applied
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 1995

Survey type:Measured
Age:7-11
Sample size:2962
References:Magarey AM, Daniels LA, Boulton TJC. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australian children and adolescents: reassesment of 1985 and 1995 data against new standard international definitions. MJA 2001;174:561-564
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 1985

Survey type:Measured
Age:7-11
Sample size:8492
References:Magarey AM, Daniels LA, Boulton TJC. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australian children and adolescents: reassesment of 1985 and 1995 data against new standard international definitions. MJA 2001;174:561-564
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by age

Adults, 2014-2015

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:14561
Area covered:National
References:Australian Health Survey First Results 2014-15 (http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/CDA852A349B4CEE6CA257F150009FC53/$File/national%20health%20survey%20first%20results,%202014-15.pdf last accessed 4th January 2017)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2014-2015

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:14561
Area covered:National
References:Australian National Health Survey, 2014-15 First Results. Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4364.0.55.001Appendix22014-15?opendocument&tabname=Notes&prodno=4364.0.55.001&issue=2014-15&num=&view= (last accessed 27th September 2017)
Notes:Body Mass Index is derived from measured height and weight. In 2014-15, 26.8% of respondents aged 18 years and over did not have their height, weight or both measured. For these respondents, imputation was used to obtain height, weight and BMI scores. For more information see Appendix 2: Physical measurements in the National Health Survey.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2011-2012

Survey type:Measured
Area covered:National
References:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease—Australian facts: Risk factors. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 4. Cat. no. CDK 4. Canberra: AIHW. ABS 2013a. Australian Health Survey: biomedical results for chronic diseases, 2011–12. ABS. cat. no. 4364.0.55.005. Canberra: ABS.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:12869
Area covered:National
References:O'Dea JA, Dibley MJ. Prevalence of obesity, overweight and thinness in Australian children and adolescents by socioeconomic status and ethnic/cultural group in 2006 and 2012. Int J Public Health. 2014 Oct;59(5):819-28. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0605-3. Epub 2014 Sep 5.
Notes:International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) 0.5 year body mass index (BMI) cutoffs used.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2007

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:4487
References:Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey - Main Findings. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia
Notes:IOTF International Cut off points applied. Regional Data
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by region

Men, 2011-2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:Large National Survey
Area covered:National
References:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease— Australian facts: Risk factors. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 4. Cat. no. CDK 4. Canberra: AIHW.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2011-2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:Large National Survey
Area covered:National
References:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease— Australian facts: Risk factors. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 4. Cat. no. CDK 4. Canberra: AIHW.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Overweight/obesity by socio-economic group

Men, 2014-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:14561
Area covered:National
References:Australian Health Survey First Results 2014-15 (http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/CDA852A349B4CEE6CA257F150009FC53/$File/national%20health%20survey%20first%20results,%202014-15.pdf last accessed 4th January 2017)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2014-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:14561
Area covered:National
References:Australian Health Survey First Results 2014-15 (http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/CDA852A349B4CEE6CA257F150009FC53/$File/national%20health%20survey%20first%20results,%202014-15.pdf last accessed 4th January 2017)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Men, 2011-2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Area covered:National
References:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease—Australian facts: Risk factors. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 4. Cat. no. CDK 4. Canberra: AIHW. ABS 2013a. Australian Health Survey: biomedical results for chronic diseases, 2011–12. ABS. cat. no. 4364.0.55.005. Canberra: ABS.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2011-2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Area covered:National
References:Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease—Australian facts: Risk factors. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 4. Cat. no. CDK 4. Canberra: AIHW. ABS 2013a. Australian Health Survey: biomedical results for chronic diseases, 2011–12. ABS. cat. no. 4364.0.55.005. Canberra: ABS.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:6-18
Sample size:12869
Area covered:National
References:O'Dea JA, Dibley MJ. Prevalence of obesity, overweight and thinness in Australian children and adolescents by socioeconomic status and ethnic/cultural group in 2006 and 2012. Int J Public Health. 2014 Oct;59(5):819-28. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0605-3. Epub 2014 Sep 5.
Notes:International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) 0.5 year body mass index (BMI) cutoffs used.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Insufficient physical activity

Adults, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Men, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Women, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Children, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Boys, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Girls, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Estimated per-capita fruit intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita fruit intake (g/day)

Estimated per-capita processed meat intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita processed meat intake (g per day)

Estimated per-capita whole grains intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita whole grains intake (g/day)

Mental health - depression disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with depression disorders

Mental health - anxiety disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with anxiety disorders

Oesophageal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Breast cancer

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, breast, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Colorectal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Pancreatic cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Gallbladder cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Kidney cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Cancer of the uterus

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, cervix uteri, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Raised blood pressure

Adults, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Men, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Women, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Raised cholesterol

Adults, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Men, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Women, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Raised fasting blood glucose

Men, 2014

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Women, 2014

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Diabetes prevalence

Adults, 2017

References:Reproduced with kind permission of IDF, International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2017. http://www.diabetesatlas.org
Definitions:Diabetes age-adjusted comparative prevalence (%).

Health systems

Economic classification: High Income

Health systems summary

The Australian healthcare system is jointly run by all levels of government – federal, state, territory, and local. The primary insurance scheme, Medicare, is a single-payer, federal government administered scheme that covers all Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent Australian residents. Medicare covers the cost of all public hospital services, and some or all of the costs of other health services and is supplemented by an additional subsidy scheme, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, that reduces the cost of pharmaceutical prescriptions. Many Australians have private health insurance to enable access to private hospitals and/or to cover the costs of “ancillary” treatment not covered by the public system.

Indicators

Where is the country’s government in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?Some progress
Where is the country’s healthcare provider in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?Some progress
In practice, how is obesity treatment largely funded?Insurance
Is there specialist training available dedicated to the training of health professionals to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage obesity?No
Have any taxes or subsidies been put in place to protect/assist/inform the population around obesity?No
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in urban areas?Partial
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in rural areas?No
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for adults?Yes
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for children?Yes

Perceived barriers to treatment

  • Stigma
  • Lack of financial investment by and lack of coverage
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of political will, interest and action
  • Influence of food industry
  • Lack of treatment facilities

Summary of stakeholder feedback

There appears to be much resistance to the classification of obesity as a disease by the Australian government. Obesity is considered to be the individual’s responsibility and so resources are mostly dedicated to public health messaging. There is, however, continued refusal by the government to implement any fiscal measures to prevent obesity.

Financial resources for treatment, on the other hand, is generally poor and variable across the country. With the exception of some states investing in childhood obesity and some bariatric facilities in public hospitals, the poor financial investment into the management and treatment of obesity in the public system means that many seek care privately when they can. As a result, most stakeholders felt that the Australian health system was not working for those living with obesity as most incur high out of pocket payments for treatment.

Individuals living with obesity tend to enter the health system via their general practitioner or pubic hospital clinic. To receive care in the public system, individuals must meet strict criteria and even then, are subject to long waiting lists. Accessibility and availability of treatment is said to vary by state, and training for obesity specialists is limited. Pharmacotherapy and bariatric options are particularly limited, and this is only exacerbated in rural or remote areas.

Based on interviews/survey returns from 7 stakeholders

Last updated: June 2020

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